We recently had a small dinner party for close friends whose company we enjoy tremendously.Their interests are so broad and conversation so fascinating that as hostess, I plan the menu to facilitate an extended evening with a minimum of last minute preparation so I don’t miss anything!

The menu comprised several courses of small proportions.

Crostini with Smoked Salmon, Creme Fraiche, Fresh Dill & Chives

Cauliflower Soup with Crisp Prosciutto

Escarole with Green Apple, Celeriac, Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese

Lime Sorbet

Osso Bucco with Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Rapini

Red-Wine Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice-Cream, Pistachios and Chocolate Lace


A Ballgown table setting was clearly called for, and gold & white seemed a natural choice. It’s elegant and simple, providing a rich background for the food These are all antique pieces, bought at different times and places, yet comprise a cohesive whole.The dinner plate is by Royal Doulton, the salad plate is Spode and the side plate, cream soup and saucer are all Royal Staffordshire.


The stemware is Gilded-Age Moser; the wine glass is their Maharani pattern, still produced today in a simpler incarnation without the gilding. The centre compote is Venetian glass.

Modern glass pillar candle holders and votives from Pottery Barn, and simple white linens completed the backdrop.